What Is A Puppy Mill and how can you Stop them?
What Is A Puppy Mill?
By Shirley Patterson Secretary of the YTCA
A puppy mill is a mass dog breeding establishment that
produces puppies for
profit by selling them wholesale to the pet industry. Many
puppy mills are
characterized by overcrowding,filth,inadequate shelter, and
water, and veterinary care. Most puppy mill owners sell
their dogs wholesale
to brokers, who in turn, sell them primarily to pet stores.
not quality dogs, is the ultimate goal of the puppy mill
practices are often shoddy, and the breeding dogs are kept
under the most
inexpensive possible conditions that will keep them alive
In contrast, there are hundreds of responsible and reputable
breeding establishments throughout the country whose owners
make a profit, but
not at the expense of their dogs. Whether these breeders are
professionals making an entire living from a kennel, or
hobby breeders with 5
or 10 animals, the responsible breeder is as concerned with
quality of the breed, by showing or belonging to a breed
club, than he or she
is at making money. Customers wishing to buy puppies from
these breeders are
welcome to inspect the premises and in most cases, to meet
In between the puppy mill operators and the responsible
kennel owners are the
so-called " backyard breeders" whose newspaper ads dot
Sunday papers each
week. These are people who own one or two purebred dogs and
produce a litter
of puppies once a year or so for extra money or " because I
want my dog to
have the experience of being a mother before I get her
spayed or Aunt Tillie
would like to have a puppy just like my mine." Like puppy
mill puppies these
animals are often haphazardly bred with no regard to the
their offspring will most often suffer the same
As secretary for the YTCA I answer an enormous amount of
calls each day. I
spend at least half the day conversing with many first time
pet buyers who
seek to have guidance in finding a healthy pet and also the
best breed for
their individual life style. I also talk to many individuals
who have already
purchased a pet and are now experiencing problems be it
minor ( Why are my
Yorkies ears not standing up?) to more serious health
problems and what to do
about them since now there is no one interested or concerned
enough about the
puppy to answer these questions.
A Responsible breeder will give each puppy the socialization
that it needs and
this requires a great deal of devotion and patience . They
are responsible for
each puppy that they have bred. (The puppies new owner
will reap these
Their dogs are their number one concern as they are
completely dependent on
them for their care, training and medical attention. Their
dogs are "special "
to them .
My own personal feeling is "If you are making money in dogs,
you are either
overbreeding or your dogs are not receiving the proper
medical attention that
they so deserve.
How can you help Stop a Puppymill
Depending on where you live (or on where the puppymill is located), there are several
things you can do.
First, though, you need to know that you can't stop a puppymill on your own but its very helpful to
have as much information as possible. Have you been to this puppymill? Or has someone told you about
it? Do you have any idea about the number of animals there? First hand experience is usually most
credible but any reliable tip should be appreciated by the authorities. If you can get photo's of the
puppymill, without getting caught taking them, that would help too.
Commercial breeders must have licenses, generally State, County (or City) and USDA. These "businesses"
are subject to inspections. Back yard breeders (BYB's) and illegal mass breeders usually don't have
licenses but they are still subject to the laws pertaining to animal breeding. Most also need
"Business" licenses. If you report an operation that isn't licensed, generally the authorities can
move pretty quickly.
Oddly enough, dog and cat breeding is monitored through the US Dept of Agriculture and the animal
welfare laws. Its considered the same as breeding, raising, selling cows, pigs, sheep, etc. I think
most State agencies also regulate animal breeding through their agriculture department while most
cities and counties do it under animal control.
The USDA monitors animal breeders for complaince to animal welfare laws.
This page details the regulations for animal breeding facilities:
At the bottom of this web page is contact information. You can call, write or email them and request
copies of previous inspections done at the location you know about and report your puppymill
complaint to them.
You can also locate the nearest USDA office through this web page if you prefer to talk to someone
closer to where you are:
The USDA has been very severely criticized in recent years for not being aggressive enough in pursuing
animal abuse and neglect in puppymills. They are supposedly much better now because of all the
negative publicity (and millions of letters from pet lovers).
Your State should also have an agency/department that also licenses/monitors breeders. Generally you
can get this information in the "state" government section of your phone book or the local library
should be able to help. Contact them too.
Also, the county/city where the puppymill is located probably also has regulations regarding animal
breeding. They are also businesses and licenses needed for that as well. [Sometimes puppymills are
closed just by the county requiring a business license and closing them down for lack of one.]
You should also contact the nearest Humane Society and/or ASPCA and talk to someone in authority
there ~ not just the person who answers the phone, ask for the director or assistant director.
Sometimes it helps to call, ask the name of the director and assistant director, then say thanks and
hang up. A little while later, call back and ask for the director by name, if not available ask
about the assistant director. Often this gets you through to the right person instead of being just
another "pink phone message" along with many others.
Each one of these groups has the authority to investigate and stop puppymills (bust them) but all are
busy, underfunded, etc. It would probably be helpful to mention to each agency that you talk to that
you'll also "be contacting the USDA, the State dept of .... the County animal control, etc." even
if you've already contacted some of them, just say you "will be" contacting them... if you say you
already have talked to them, the person you're talking to might think, "Oh if she's talked to so and
so, I don't have to do anything right now." Whereas if you say, I'll also be contacting, so and so
and such and such, you may bring out a competitive response (or an "I want to check this out before
they do!" type of thing).
It isn't easy stopping puppymillers and it can be very frustrating. But more and more government
agencies are doing better at shutting them down. The Humane Society and ASPCA aren't government
agencies and rely on donations and volunteers but they are concerned, very proactive and usually
work with the government groups in busts and rescuing the animals.
You have to be persistent, calling everyone and telling them as much as you can. Assuming you get
the right person on each call, you'll be making at least 4 phone calls, each long enough to tell
your entire story... but realistically it'll more be likely double or triple the number of calls
before you reach the right people.
Remember that it helps to be as nice as you can to whomever you talk to... You may feel angry and
frustrated by what you know, but these are the people who can stop it and they need people like you
to tell them about abusers. Your call will be one of countless other calls they each will take that
day. Appreciating the fact that they are very busy and overworked will go a long way in their
willingness to talk to you and hear what you have to say.
Also, remember that it can take a while to get an investigation going so you have to try to be patient
too. Sometimes the authorities can move very quickly but generally it takes time to build their
cases, get the evidence and the warrants needed. Many puppymillers are very clever in hiding what
they do, often having the majority of the animals hidden away in remote areas of rural properties ~
so goverment inspectors see only a tiny portion of the operation when they inspect... a nice barn
near the street, all looking good, meanwhile, hundreds of animals live in hell a few miles back in
These are first steps you can take to stop puppymills. Often they are all that are needed, that and
you're being persistent. Calling the various agencies, telling them as much as you can. Wait a day
or too and call back, ask if there is any progress. Then wait a week or two and call again. Don't be
a pest, just persistent.
If you've tried all these and still need help, please email us and we'll try to help you more.
You can contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, please let us know if you've successfully stopped a puppymill or if your work is making
progress. All to often, all we hear is the "bad news."
Puppymills are a blight and cause immeasurable hurt to people who only want a pet they
can love forever. Loving pet owners are cheated out of years of love and the poor little
pets die miserable, unnecessary deaths.
Its so important that anyone wanting a pet research the pet, the breed and the breeder. So
many pet lovers grieve and so many pets have died because of unethical breeders and the
breeders quest for more dollars. It isn't fair. It isn't just. And breeders who do that need to
be stopped. And if they've abuse or neglected animals, they need to be prosecuted under
Animal Welfare laws.
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